Maserati Kyalami

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Maserati Kyalami
DesignerPietro Frua[1]
Body and chassis
ClassGrand tourer (S)
Body style2-door 2+2 coupé
  • 4.2-litre V8
  • 4.9-litre V8
Wheelbase2,600 mm (102.4 in)
Length4,610 mm (181.5 in)
Width1,870 mm (73.6 in)
Height1,320 mm (52.0 in)
Curb weight1,670 kg (3,682 lb)
PredecessorMaserati Mexico

The Maserati Kyalami (Tipo AM129) is a four-seat GT coupé produced by Italian automobile manufacturer Maserati from 1976 to 1983. The car was named after the Kyalami Grand Prix Circuit in South Africa where a Maserati-powered Cooper T81 had won the 1967 South African Grand Prix.


Comparison between the front end of the De Tomaso Longchamp (top) and Maserati Kyalami (bottom).

The Kyalami was the first new model developed under the Alejandro de Tomaso ownership. It was derived from, and mechanically virtually identical (except for some body panels) to the Longchamp, a three-box grand tourer made by De Tomaso Automobili.

When De Tomaso acquired Maserati after the demise of Citroën in 1975, he found the brand in dire financial straits. In a desperate need to develop a new flagship model to improve sales, De Tomaso had the idea to use the recently unsuccessful Longchamp as the base in order to save development costs of the new model. Pietro Frua was commissioned by De Tomaso to undertake the restyling of the Tom Tjaarda-designed Longchamp, to give the new car a distinctive Maserati feel. The edgy lines of the Longchamp were softened and the headlamps were replaced by quad round units. The car was also lowered, lengthened and widened in order to give the car a more sporty character. This move was disdained by purists and this showed in the form of declining interest in the car.

The interior was also upgraded to incorporate classic Maserati elements such the steering wheel and instrumentation. It was upholstered in premium Connolly leather and had plush carpeting. The boxy design for the roof meant that the car could easily seat taller passengers. A quad overhead camshaft Maserati 90° V8 engine was utilised to power the car, as opposed to the American-sourced Ford V8 which was used in the Longchamp. The Kyalami was the last car to use this engine. The Kyalami was a sales failure and only 200 units were built before it was replaced by the mass-produced Biturbo.[2][3][4]

Specifications and performance[edit]

Rear view.

The Kyalami was launched at the 1976 Geneva Motor Show and was initially powered by a 265 PS (195 kW; 261 hp) 4.2 litre V8 engine which had a redline of 6,000 rpm.[1] Starting in 1978, an enlarged version of the engine, displacing 4.9-litres and rated at 280 PS (206 kW; 276 hp) at 5,600 rpm, was also available. Both engines were coupled with a ZF five-speed manual transmission or upon request a three-speed Borg Warner automatic transmission and were equipped with Weber downdraft carburettors and a dry sump lubrication system.[5] Mechanically, the Kyalami was closely related to its contemporary Quattroporte III/Royale, which was also offered with the same engines but with a Chrysler built automatic transmission instead of the Borg Warner unit.[6] Maserati claimed a top speed of 240 km/h (149 mph) for both versions of the Kyalami.[3] However, due to its rarity, few performance tests were done by the automotive press.[citation needed] In recent comparison tests, the Kyalami proved to be a better car than the Longchamp it was based on, primarily due to the use of a manual transmission.[7]

Maserati Kyalami Convertible

A convertible prototype was built by Carozzeria Frua but was rejected by Maserati, nonetheless, a few customers demanded such a variant.[8] An independent German tuning company began offering a conversion to the convertible bodystyle and at least two cars have been known to be converted. Both of these employed the 4.2 litre engine.[5]


  1. ^ a b "Special Bodies: Illustrations and technical information", World Cars 1977, Pelham, NY: The Automobile Club of Italy/Herald Books: 20, ISBN 0-910714-09-6
  2. ^ "Maserati Kyalami: Out of Africa". Classic Driver Magazine. 2014-04-20. Retrieved 2019-04-21.
  3. ^ a b "Kyalami". Maserati. Retrieved 2019-04-21.
  4. ^ "Maserati Sports Cars". How Stuff Works. Retrieved 2019-04-21.
  5. ^ a b "1978 Maserati Kyalami Convertible". 2013-01-29. Retrieved 2019-04-21.
  6. ^ The Maserati Kyalami: The Maserati Kyalami, accessdate: 14. January 2017
  7. ^ Tazelaar, Natan. "Driven: De Tomaso Longchamp GTS Vs Maserati Kyalami - Brilliant Bastards". DriveTribe. Retrieved 2019-04-21.
  8. ^ "1978 Maserati Kyalami Cabriolet (rear view)". Retrieved 2019-04-21.


  • Cancellieri, Gianni; al. (2003). Maserati. Catalogue Raisonné 1926-2003. Milan: Automobilia. ISBN 88-7960-151-2.

External links[edit]